It was a brilliant day on the Farm on Saturday with all kinds of ancient woodland crafts being demonstrated in Watervole Woodland.
There was charcoal making in the central fire. Charcoal is partially burnt wood and was once a major fuel source. Producing it provided a livehood for wood colliers (charcoal makers). Although we now only tend to think of it for barbeques, it has been used for thousands of years to smelt metal ore. On Saturday however, we made brilliant drawings with it.
‘It was a fun activity.’ Louise aged 7
We also had hurdle making – weaving willow withies between posts or rods traditionally made of hazel. These trees would have been coppiced, to ensure a steady supply of wood and withies. Coppicing is where the tree has been cut down to a stump and new growth emerges as useful regular sized poles and was an essential part of ancient woodland managment, ensuring a steady supply of wood. Hurdles were used as temporary, moveable fencing. A visitor commented that they liked the willow and seeing how the hurdles were made.
There was also the opportunity to try out some green woodworking techniques – a way of creating beautiful, useful objects, from unseasoned wood.
We also made a well known drink, the old fashioned way. Dandelion and burdock roots were scrubbed, and then crushed in a pestle and mortar for the first stages in making this delicious cordial. People had the opportunity to try some that we’d made earlier in the week.
Crushing the roots in a pestal and mortar
Someone asked about a family workshop to learn about spinning wool – so watch this space!
The last few days have seen the small and very wobbly duckling go off for some intensive care with one of our volunteers to see if swimming around in her bath will help strengthen its legs. So we now have four of the original 10 ducklings left. This afternoon (Sunday) they are getting to know the other ducks and having some fun swimming on their pond.
The farm now has two new goats – Snowy and Bambi – thanks to Hemley Farm. The goats are Boer / Sanaan and very lovely. They are quite shy, but starting to get used to the farm staff and volunteers. This week we hope to start taking them out for walks and lead them up to their new paddocks where we hope that they will gobble up the thistles and brambles.
Have you any food?
This week we also had two Polish Frizzle bantams donated – these are out on the grass in a run during the daytime. They are amazingly fluffy and very tame.
One of the farm’s lambs unfortunately got caught by flystrike (a nasty injury that can kill them if left untreated) this week. The sheep were all due to be re-treated next week so this is a real shame. The lamb has been treated and is fully recovered, but if you are visiting the farm you will see that one of the lambs has a bald patch where we needed to trim it’s wool.
Next week we will have mutton for sale. There will be chops, mince and smaller joints at very reasonable prices